3 Tips to Improve Working from Home with Children

Many of us have had to completely adjust our way of life due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including working remotely. Parents can no longer drop their children off at school and begin the commute to work. They are now forced to find a way to juggle parenting, monitoring remote learning, and remaining productive at work. The change is massive, but there are a few ways that you can make it work.

1. Dedicated Office Space

When you walk into your office, your brain clicks into work mode. This is not as easy when you are at home with all the distractions around you. It is crucial to create an office space in your home to help trigger your mind to begin thinking about work. Inform your family that this area is designated for your time. If you have young children, you can create fun signs to remind everyone in the house that when you are at “work,” you are not to be disturbed.

2. Create Routines

You once had a great routine. Children went to school, where they had set times for classes and meals. You went to work and had a set lunchtime. Those routines disappeared once everyone was in the house. Now there is food in the house, class schedules are more relaxed, and you must adjust. While you can work with your employer to create a more flexible work schedule that allows you to also assist with education requirements, there are some routines you can put into place. Have everyone still up at a set time for breakfast and get dressed for the day. Remember, our minds work on habits. Set a lunchtime and a snack time, so you do not find yourself snacking throughout the day. Finally, set a time when you will quit work and school for the day. Every day will not be perfect, but as your family adjusts, it will get better.

3. Set Expectations

Children do best with clear expectations of what is being requested of them. While you will want to set expectations for your children, you also want to converse with your employer about what working remotely will look like. With your children, they should know when they are to be in class or learning on their own. For your work situation, make sure meetings are scheduled in advance, so you do not run into the problem of having too many people on video calls at the same time. Have clear rules set for tracking hourly work, and ensure everyone is relaxed with children sometimes interrupting.

It is unknown when life will go back to the “normal” we knew before the pandemic. Therefore, it is up to us to adapt everyone to return to pre-March 2020. With these three tips, you reduce stress and create an atmosphere everyone benefits from. Working from home while parenting will come with good days and bad days, so take it one day at a time.

4 Ways to Bring Your Family Together

Jennifer Powers - New York City - 4 Ways to Bring Your Family Together

Most families spend an average of 37 quality minutes per day together. Getting more time together doesn’t have to be complicated. Even mundane, everyday tasks can become a fun-filled family affair. Here are four simple ways to bring the family together before summer ends!


Invite the Family to Help with Tasks

Chores, cooking, and exercise are things many parents already have on their to-do lists. Why not invite the family to help out? Not only will quality family time increase, but parents can also instill essential values at the same time. Children may not efficiently load the dishwasher or safely use a knife, but side-by-side with a parent, they learn the importance of work and get the attention that nurtures the family relationship.


Listen to Each Other

A little bit of conversation can do a lot to enrich family relationships. Asking the right questions and actively listening to answers communicates interest and love. Come up with a question each day to learn more about loved ones. Find common interests to discuss, and find ways to pursue those interests. Allow children to participate in planning family vacations, deciding family values, and setting up family rules. Letting children participate in family matters helps them see different perspectives and get invested in family goals.


Turn Off Devices

On average, a smartphone is unlocked about 150 times per day, and nearly half of parents think their child has a smartphone addiction. Limiting device usage is a simple way to create more time for family. Bust out a board game, start a family book club, or go on an adventure. These activities don’t have to cost a dime—not even adventures! A walk around town can turn into an expedition. Children and adults alike unleash creativity and forge strong relationships when they put their devices away.


Schedule Family Time

Many families are too busy to get much unstructured time together. Formally scheduling family time helps families keep relationships a top priority. Schedule the same time every week for family time, so everyone gets into the habit. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time to make a difference.


Make these trying times a bit easier with a little more family time!

Mastering Decluttering: Staying Motivated and Donating Items

Jennifer Powers - New York City - Decluttering staying motivated donating items

Deep-cleaning the house is a wonderful and frustrating experience for just about everybody. It starts with a blast of motivation but quickly shifts to exasperation from an overwhelming mess. In the end, cleaning can lead to an organized home and satisfied inhabitants. But a deep dive into your material possessions helps more than just the house or the people living in it. If done right, it can help the neighborhood.


Staying Motivated

The first step of cleaning the house is simple in theory—it’s getting started. However, a project as big as deep-cleaning a home is tough to start. Nearly everyone wants to do it but doesn’t want to sink time and energy into the project. Some are afraid they’ll find themselves stuck after they start. When starting to clean, everything has to be moved, including big furniture pieces. It’s about cleaning what’s visible and what’s hidden, so get ready to sweep up dust behind entertainment centers and beds.

That means the house will have to become messier before it gets cleaner. In that case, not everything should be tackled at once. It’s better to start small and organize shelf-by-shelf and keep in mind what would be best donated or kept. People could move items in need of sorting to other rooms or even outside if the weather permits. Still feel stuck? Habitat.org has so many tips to help you get started!


Donating Items

Donating old, unneeded things helps people clean out their space and declutter their lives, but it also assists people who may need those items more than others. It helps to think of objects not as useless, but as necessary for others.

Humans are sentimental creatures, and most hold back on donating items they don’t use. This leads to extra clutter sitting in the backs of closets. To master the art of decluttering, it’s best to look beyond emotion and ask if it still has a purpose in the house or would be better off helping another. There are plenty of charities in need of donations. And people are not restricted to donating only the clothes in their closets—many stores will take dishes, appliances, furniture, toys, and almost anything else. If it’s in good enough condition to be donated, it will most likely make a difference in someone’s life.

Finding the Right Volunteer Opportunity for You

So, you want to volunteer. With all of the charities and organizations out there, choosing a cause can be pretty overwhelming. If you’re having trouble sifting through all of the calls to action, here are a few ways to narrow down your options and find a best-fit volunteering opportunity.

Understand why you want to volunteer

Are you new to a city and looking for friends with similar interests? Are you totally passionate about a specific cause? Are you looking for ways to give back to the community? Understanding the “why” behind your drive to be philanthropic can help you find the best-fit opportunity in your area. Volunteer programs come in all shapes and sizes—some are highly interactive and interpersonal, which can be great for extroverts; others require a more low-key approach and limited face-to-face time, a benefit to introverts. If you’re looking for friendly faces, a night at a soup kitchen or a community get-together are two fun options. If the social aspect of volunteering doesn’t interest you, shelving at a library or working with shelter animals might be something to try.


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The Importance of Making Time for Yourself

The hustle and bustle of everyday life can leave us feeling tired, stressed, and worn out. With work, social activities, and chores, it can be difficult to find time for yourself, and the potential to burnout can be quite real. The busier our lives get, the more our “me time” gets shortened.

The good news is, there are several ways to carve out more time for yourself with just a few adjustments to your schedule. The benefits of giving yourself some time to decompress far outweigh the negatives that it takes to make it possible.

How to Make More Time for Yourself

Consider eliminating tasks that aren’t necessary or that don’t benefit your life in a positive way. Are you watching too much television or scrolling through social media too often? Try to cut back on that. Are you finding yourself always saying “yes” when someone asks for help? Don’t feel guilty about having to say “no” from time to time. Your health and well-being far surpass any help someone could need, and your friends and family will likely agree.  Keep in mind, if you’re not taking care of yourself, it can be difficult to take care of others.

Extra time for yourself should consist of at least thirty minutes of uninterrupted time each day. This gives the body and mind a proper amount of time to rest and decompress. If you’re having a hard time carving out thirty minutes each day, put a reminder on your phone’s calendar to help you enforce this new schedule. Ask family and friends to help hold you accountable. Remember, they want to see the best version of you, even if it means leaving you alone for a little while….



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7 Ways To Keep Kids Occupied During Summer Break

School’s almost out for the summer so you know what that means- the dreaded phrase “I’m bored” will soon be uttered by kids everywhere.  While the excitement of not having school for a couple of months is still fresh and new, kids can quickly become “bored” with a lack of routine and things to fill their time during the summer.  Luckily, there are several fun ways to keep your kids entertained while also maintaining your sanity.

Continue the Learning

Avoid the “summer slide” by having your kids read and write daily. You can also ask your child’s teacher for a packet of math problems for them to work on.

Stay Active

Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. The nice weather makes this an easy task. Some great ideas include riding bikes, swimming, taking a walk, and swinging.

Make Use of Free Entertainment

There are so many fun things to do that don’t cost a dime. Visiting the local library and checking out the numerous playgrounds in the area are just a few ideas.

Keep an Eye Out for Special Deals

Many movie theaters run dollar specials throughout the week where kids can see a movie for just a dollar. You can also check the newspaper for buy one, get one, free deals at trampoline parks, mini golf courses, museums, amusement parks, and arcades…



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5 Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Healthy

It almost goes without saying that parents want their kids to eat healthy. Getting healthy foods into your kids, however, is a whole different story. Unfortunately, supermarket shelves are loaded with foods laden with sugar and artificial ingredients that make foods more tasty and palatable for children. Add in the advertising marketing those foods and parents can be facing an uphill battle. There are, however, a number of ways to get your kids to actually be willing participants in eating healthy. Here are 5 ways to get your children to enjoy healthy food.

Hide the Vegetables

From blending up broccoli to put in spaghetti sauce to grinding up cauliflower to put in meatloaf, there are dozens of ways to pack extra nutrition into almost every type of food.  Sometimes the reluctance to eat healthy is more mental. Pulling a shade over the healthy options is a great way to have your child forget about the fact that they’re eating healthy options.  

Make Food Fun

Most parents have grown up with the idea that food is for eating, not for playing with. If you really want to get your kids interested in eating healthy foods, however, let them have some fun making their own snacks.

Grow Your Own

There may be nothing that will make kids more interested in healthy food than if they grow it themselves. If you have the time, space and energy to help them plant a full garden, then getting them to eat the results is generally a breeze. Even apartment dwellers or those with little time can still help their kids grow a wide variety of herbs and vegetables…



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The Benefits of Summer Camp

The summer is approaching fast, and many children will soon head off to summer camp for a few weeks, or even the entire season. Along with that souvenir t-shirt, they’ll have fun, interact with others, and learn new things. Sure, they can get all this at school and extra-curricular activities, but summer camp offers benefits exclusive to the camping experience. Following are a few unique ways children can benefit from summer camp.

A Boost in Self Confidence

One extensive study found that 70 percent of campers’ parents reported that their children came home from camp with more self-confidence. Camp kids must work through homesickness and tackle new activities. When children are in another environment, they’re more likely to push themselves further on skills give they already have. Back at school, this new sense of pride can lead them to try out for teams and activities they might have otherwise avoided.

Develop a Unique Interest

Camps that specialize in activities like video game design or archery give children an environment to try out skills without the fear of reproach. They can concentrate on that one skill set without worrying with other studies and homework. They now have the time to work on developing a unique interest. This interest can lead to new success for them.

Helps Connect to Nature

Kids today are often caught up in cyberspace and detached from the natural world. In fact, The Nature Conservancy conducted a nationwide poll and found that a mere 10 percent of children spend time outside every day…



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Planning a Family Vacation on a Budget

Vacations provide a great opportunity to get away from the stress of everyday life. Whether it involves a road trip or a flight to a tropical location, a vacation can literally be just what the doctor ordered. However, the expenses that come with a vacation can lead to other forms of stress. This is why it’s important to have a budget in place when planning a vacation. Here are some options for saving money on a family vacation.

Research With The Kids

Miserable kids can make for a miserable vacation. Therefore, it’s a good idea to involve the children in the planning of a family vacation. This will involve talking over the options that are available with them and preparing them for what to expect once the trip starts. When they know what’s coming up, they are likely to be happier about the trip, which should also make the parents happier about the trip.

Go In The Off-season

Fewer people go to many popular vacation destinations in the fall. This means that airlines and hotels will offer off-peak pricing. Cruises can also be cheaper in the off-season. Additionally, it’s likely that less people will be around popular destinations so families will have more room at the pool or on the beach.

Set Limits On Souvenirs

There may be a temptation to buy kitschy souvenirs at every single stop on a vacation. This is not a good idea for those who are looking to save money. A good idea is to set up a budget for the kids before leaving home. Maybe they will have $25 or $50 to spend on whatever they want. However, once the money is gone, it’s gone…



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4 Tips To Being An Effective Philanthropist

At one time, philanthropists were generally wealthy individuals who gave large sums of money to charity or devoted their time and energy to raising money for a cause. These days, however, there are a wide range of philanthropic opportunities available to individuals of even the most modest means. Even more importantly, even philanthropists of modest means have opportunities to engage in creating real change in the world around them. Here are 3 ways to be an effective philanthropist.

Pick the Right Cause to Focus on

Every day, we are surrounded by a word of need. So much so, it can become overwhelming. The more overwhelmed you feel, the less empowered you will feel to do anything about it. Being an effective philanthropist means focusing on one or two areas where you feel you can effect change and letting the rest go. The more scattered you are – or feel – the less effective you will be.

Accept that you can help alleviate problems or effect change but you cannot solve them

Poverty will always exist in some form. It is not something you can simply eliminate entirely. If you feel like your role is to solve the problem, you will burn out faster than a cheap birthday candle. If your goal is simply to effect change, however, you will most likely be far more effective over the long haul.

Set Personal Goals

One thing that is difficult for many people to grasp in a number of areas of life, is that you have no control over outcomes, only your own input. If you are like many people, you may set giving goals, such as the amount of money you want to give or the number of hours you hope to volunteer…



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